Carl Weese Photographer
About the Prints
The photographs on this website are available as prints in several different photographic media. Many of the pictures were made as 8x10, 7x17, and 12x20 inch negatives intended for contact printing in the platinum/palladium process. The final print is the same size as the negative. A different camera (and lenses, film holders, and so on) is needed for each print size. The Pt/Pd prints are offered in limited editions of fifteen plus three artist's proofs.
In recent years I have been working intensively with the latest digital imaging equipment. These methods have reached a level that I think establishes digital printing as a valid new photographic medium in its own right. Many of the pictures available as Pt/Pd are now also available as larger size, open edition, pigment ink digital prints at substantially lower cost than the hand-coated platinum prints. I have also been doing a great deal of new photography using digital capture, and those pictures are available as full color pigment ink digital prints.
The platinum process was invented in the 1870s and has qualities never surpassed by later methods. Silver prints, and now digital prints, can be very, very good, but neither can actually duplicate the tone, surface, and color of a well-made platinum/palladium print. Early last century, platinum metal became scarce and then unavailable (it was a strategic commodity in WWI). By the 1920s manufactured Pt/Pd papers were extinct. In the 1970s a revival began among fine art photographers who sought the unsurpassed tonal subtlety of platinum prints. Today the metals and chemicals are available (although they're expensive) but there are no factory-made papers. It's necessary to mix sensitizer chemicals individually for each print and coat each sheet of paper by hand. This has certain advantages. The choice of fine paper and specific chemical formula, along with total control of the materials and procedures, allows the photographer/printmaker enormous control of the print's color, tone, and surface. It's a time consuming procedure to prepare each sheet of paper and then to expose and process each print. The resulting print consists of tiny particles of non-reactive platinum and palladium embedded in a support of fine paper, making Pt/Pd prints among the most permanent of all graphic media.
Pigment ink digital monochrome printing
To make monochrome digital prints from my large format pictures, I begin by scanning the negative (never an existing print). My digital prints are new interpretations of the negative intended not to reproduce a platinum print but to work with the strengths of the digital process to make the best possible print from the negative in this new medium. The resulting digital file is adjusted for tone in Photoshop and printed using highly stable pigment inks. Getting the print exactly right is a process of trial and error, quite analogous to procedures in the traditional silver or platinum darkroom. But these digital prints can be offered in an open edition at lower prices because, once I'm satisfied with the results, it is relatively easy (though hardly less expensive in materials) to make additional prints. Since my platinum prints are always the same size as the negative, an interesting and revealing element of working with the same negatives digitally is the ability to make large prints; I've recently enlarged a number of 7x17 inch negatives to 16x40 inches. Since this large print is actually only a slight, 240% enlargement of the big negative, the technical quality is quite amazing. I was surprised to find that I rediscovered, in the big prints, certain small elements that I had been quite conscious of while making the exposure but had since forgotten because they were too small to make their presence felt in the contact prints.
Digital capture, pigment ink prints
In the past few years there have been dramatic changes in color photography. I've always loved color but was never satisfied with available color printing methods—until now. Output from digital printing equipment has not only equaled the quality of darkroom color prints, but surpassed the archival qualities of dye-based traditional color photographs. Digital capture offers the photographer far greater control over the process than color film ever allowed. There are examples of my recent color work linked from the Online Galleries page on this web site, and anyone interested in seeing more of this new work in real time can visit my daily blog, Working Pictures. (Link in menu, above.)
Hybrid digital/platinum prints
Beginning in 2014, I've found that digital tools have progressed to the point that it's possible to produce digital negatives optimized for Pt/Pd printing, with excellent results. This opens the possibility of printing film negatives in Pt/Pd at a larger size than the original, and even of making platinum prints from digital captures. Exciting developments.